I discovered the Make Lemonade coworking space through Instagram. Last month I attended an introductory calligraphy workshop here which I had also found out about on Instagram through Via Calligraphy and Embiria (stay tuned for their interviews on the blog in the near future).
Check out the interview below with the founder of Make Lemonade, Rachel Kelly.
1. Growing up did you always want to run your own business? Or better yet, did you have your own stand and literally make lemonade?
How cool would it be if I actually ran my own lemonade stand?! I truly wish I could go back and rewrite a bit of history so I have a snapshot sellin’ literal lemonade. My parents ran their own business for 33 years so an entrepreneurial future was always what I strived for. I’ve always known I was in control of my future, but when life handed me a figurative lemon, I finally put my beliefs to the test when it came to my career.
2. What made you decide to launch a female-friendly co-working space?
For a couple of years, I was bouncing from coffee shops & home, working on freelancing gigs and was constantly feeling lonely and isolated. I was also frustrated with how coffee shops had poor wifi and limited seating, but I continued to visit them because I loved the designs and how inspirational some shops were. It was from those frustrations that built some of the base for my imaginary coworking space. During that time I was also part of a lot of online communities that were mainly women and I began to think; “how come we’re not meeting in person?” And thus, making my space for women was the obvious solution to that.
3. How did you come up with the name Make Lemonade?
Simple! Life handed me a lemon and I decided to make lemonade.
4. What is like running a coworking space? What is a typical day like for you?
Each day is totally different and I don’t think I’ll 100% find my groove for a solid year or so. Part of me tells me that is what comes with running a new business, but I also feel that’s the nature of coworking. On a typical day, the most important thing is wifi, lights, clean. If members can work, then that’s the most important. Having a clean space is also super important to me; why should members worry about a sink full of dishes if that’s what they’re escaping from home? The rest is a combination of answering emails, planning out social content for the coming weeks, and prepping for events coming up. There’s so much behind the scenes action that never truly get exposed!
5. What can someone expect as a member of Make Lemonade?
Members can expect solid wifi, a bright, inspiring space, and a community of driven women. The perks are what make our space fun and energized, but at the core basis, our values lie in providing members with a home to get sh*t done.
6. Did you encounter any struggles when you first came up with the idea or when you first opened its doors?
The amount of struggles I faced were a lot, like a looooooooot. But I kept telling myself that if I think this is hard, just wait, something harder is going to come your way. The construction phase feels like a blur, but it truly was one of the most transient times in my life. I lived in leggings and a splattered shirt. One moment I would be painting, the next quickly changing and offering a tour for potential members, and the next, sending some important documents to my lawyer.
7. With the growing trend of self-employment and startups, do you feel there is also an increase in the creation of coworking spaces to accommodate them?
It’s no doubt that the way we work is changing; 11% of Torontonians are self-employed and the number of coworking spaces in Toronto is reaching 100. Coworking/shared space/ work-life balance, it’s only on the up and I’m excited to be part of it!
8. What types of events/workshops do you typically host at Make Lemonade?
Each month we host a Masterclass where we bring in an expert in their field to teach members and non-members a skill they’d like to master. We also have a monthly Lemon mixer where we celebrate our business wins & mingle with members you may not see on a regular basis. There’s also a ton of events run by members here like calligraphy workshops, financing for your business, coaching sessions, panel discussions and even meditation. The sky is the limit!
9. What do you like the most about your job?
I love that on a regular basis I just get to chat- that is the core of my role at Make Lemonade; make members feel welcome, offer constructive feedback about a project they’re working on, make sure the space is conducive to working. It’s pretty damn cool. Definitely not something I could have ever dreamed of!
10. What do you like the least about your job?
Being the boss is a tough role to fill, especially when you hold yourself to high standards. Somedays, like others I’m sure, I just want to sleep in and pretend I don’t have any responsibilities, but that’s not the case!
10. What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own business, especially one that involves renting or owning a space?
I would tell anyone looking to embark on something like this 2 things:
Be patient, spend time building your community, and remember “if you build it they will come.”
You know all that advice you’ve heard about the project you’re going to take on? Remember it, follow it, and yes, you will spend a great deal of time being your own cheerleader.